Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dyeing in the Lud Valley with India Flint - Part 2

But wait... there's more... We moved swiftly onto the fabric, stitching all the pieces we used with our personal marks so we could identify them easily when they came out the cauldrons. A genius idea - otherwise there really would have been tears before bedtime!

Considering the similar technique used in the dyeing it was amazing the variety that was achieved. Different fabrics took up the dyes differently sometimes achieving radically different results from the same plant material.

This piece is one of mine, showing again the long eucalyptus leaves from Golden Bay. One of the things I have really noticed since doing the workshop was just how many gum trees there are in New Zealand. They are everywhere! Offering untold dyeing opportunities. I just love the shapes, colour and fragrance they impart on to the fabric.

It was a simply magical 5 days. At the end we wrote India  little note asking if we could do it all again in 2014.... which after due consideration she and Judy said yes to. So in a couple of weeks I am looking forward to a return workshop and another visit to the wonderful Lud Valley.

There are number of my fellow stitchers returning from last year for the workshop - I feel that we are something like the godwits returning after the long winter for another blessed summer experience.

Clearly this is a tale to be continued.....

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dyeing in the Lud Valley with India Flint - Part 1

In late January last year I was incredibly lucky to participate in a workshop with India Flint in the beautiful Lud valley, just outside Nelson. It was 5 perfect days of blue skies, creativity, surprises, experimentation, great company and unbelievably fantastic food. None of us could have asked for more. It felt like a true indulgence.
The setting was perfect. We were hosted by Judy Keylock and her family on their property in the Lud Valley which is fully organic and where Judy has been planting extensively for dyeing potential. It was nothing short of idyllic.
The firepit for the dyeing cauldrons was set up outside Judy's studio. 

We started each day outside around the circle of Queen Anne's Lace taking in the beauty of the environment and reflecting on the potential of the day.

India showed us some of her fabulous textiles as she introduced us to the possibilities of using leaves to mark cloth. They were even more breathtaking in the cloth than they look on India's blog and fabulous books, which I have spent many many hours pouring over.

The workshop was called the Wayfarers Wanderbook which focused on using the materials in our immediate environment to record out experiences in. Before starting onto the fabric we made watercolour paper books - here they are in the cauldrons, complimented by my shadow.
The marks varied between the bundles depending on the quality of the paper.

These were some of the page inserts I made for my book marked with eucalyptus that I had gathered when we had been holidaying in Golden Bay a few days before the workshop started, not exactly the immediate environment but special to me.

Then we moved onto the silks and wool that we had bought for dyeing..... more in the next post....

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

From little acorns grow mighty Oaks

Early in 2013 one of our oldest friends (and his gorgeous partner) had their first child. Naturally it was the cause for great celebration, as all new children are (or at least should be!). The first time father was 50 - my husband and I drew a deep breath....

Coincidentally Pete was an attendant at our wedding, just as David who I made the quilt for in March had been, so of course I started stitching. We went up to visit Pete, Catherine and the new baby, Oak, at the first opportunity. They live very near the top of the North Island in Paihia (we live at the very bottom of the island) so the visit didn't occur until April. Unfortunately the quilt wasn't ready so we took cushions for Oak - one with sailing ships to represent his father the boatie and the other with Union Jacks to represent his mother's heritage. I can't really imagine giving a non textile present so was pleased to be able to give these.

While we were visiting my boys took to referring to Oak as "mum's favourite drug". It appears I may have demonstrated signs of "cluckiness".... surely not....

Oak arrived a little early so he has a big name to grow into and I decided that he should also have a big quilt. I used the same round the world pattern that I had used for Sophie's quilt but used more boyish fabrics and lots that referred to his parents interests in the sea and the environment. It probably goes without saying that it also featured oak leaves which introduced the orange tones to the quilt. It passed muster and will keep him covered for quite a few years to come.

One of Oak's aunts had given him the most lovely eco dyed woollen shirt which was made by Helen Millen from Marlborough. It was fabulous! Another thing I need to try my hand at....

And this leads to a whole other story which I am yet to tell - my fabulous workshop with India Flint in Nelson....

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Hello 2014! Starting with a recap on 2013....

Well it seems that last year I fell off the blog-o-sphere. This year I'm going to get back on it!! I blame pinterest and the ipad I bought myself early last year.... easy trap to fall into. However I did manage to keep stitching while I was off the air and I thought that there was no better place to start than with a recap of what I haven't posted about.

Having just been through the photos I took last year, in an effort to work out just what I did do and make last year I've realised than one of the downsides of not blogging is that my memory of what I made is hazier and also much less thoroughly photographed. Given than one of the major reasons I do this is to actually keep a log for myself on what I'm creating (and usually then giving away pretty quickly) it made me realise it's a habit I really need to keep up.... so

In March last year I had a wonderful weekend in Christchurch with friends I had been to school with to celebrate a 50th birthday - at this point I will hurriedly add that I am by far the youngest! One of our party was over from England for the celebrations and the last time he was here I had told him I would make a quilt for him to celebrate his civil union. 

Of course the hitch was I found out he was coming to the event only three weeks before hand. I had to get my skates on! First and foremost I wanted it to be a masculine quilt so I reached for a pile of my kimono fabrics.

I also wanted a quilt that reflected something of New Zealand. David has lived in London for several decades now and although he visits home every few years he still misses NZ and particularly the bush and the song of our native birds. This fabric features Saddlebacks on flax flowers.

Above all the quilt had to be simple so I could meet my deadline. I recalled a Denyse Schmidt quilt that I had long admired and used this as a starting point. Here's what I came up with.

David loved the quilt - in fact I don't think he quite believed it as he was starting to give me a hard time about when he would ever get his quilt and so I disappeared inside to get it, calling his bluff. He was speechless! This next photo is the back of the quilt. I called it "Into My Arms" from the Nick Cave song. 

I know he loves the quilt and it gives him a lot of comfort when he is missing home. I like knowing that at times when I would like to be able to give him a hug that he can wrap himself in it and know it carries my love and ongoing friendship.

Stay tuned  for more updates - and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Scrappy Trips

A couple of weekends ago I went to our first Guild retreat for the year. It was a last minute decision for me - we have had a summer seemingly without end and I wasn't sure that I really wanted to spend a weekend inside quilting when I could be enjoying yet more sunshine without a hint of a breeze. What won me over was the prospect that, if I put my mind to it, I could probably just about finish a quilt for the new niece that was due to arrive shortly into our wider family.

I had wild ideas of making up a quilt pattern that I'd been holding onto - however it is always useful to read instructions properly before starting on somewhere new, especially if you are away from home. I had nothing to make templates from so I needed to think quickly.

I'd seen lots of the Scrappy Trips Around the World quilts and the tutorial from Quiltville 
and thought I could probably remember, off the top of my head, how to make this. So off I set.

I had taken lots of soft colours with me so I started cutting these into strips and sewing

and before I knew it I had enough blocks to start playing with. So many options

so much fun to be had,

and best of all, so quick. Just after lunch on Sunday I put the final quilting stitches into the quilt.

And a week later Sophie Grace made her appearance over in Townsville. Perfect!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Friendship is the backbone of life

I'm pleased to report that although I've been sadly missing from this blog, I have not been missing from my sewing room. I've been having a highly productive summer - as ever I seem to perform well to a deadline, and this has certainly been the summer of deadlines.

This has been the summer that I have become the parent of a school leaver (one down, two to go) and it's therefore been the summer that my daughter and her friends have prepared for the transition from school students to university students. Many of her friends  have chosen to go to universities outside of the city we live in. It's a big transition for all considered - for the students and for their parents.

For some I've been able to help them on their way with a quilt. This is the third of what I am increasingly thinking of as part of my university series. You might recall that several years ago I made a quilt to remember a special friend who had died of breast cancer - I wrote about it here.

This quilt is for her eldest daughter - it uses a number of the same fabrics I used in the quilt for her mother and a similar pattern based on an idea from Kaffe Fassett. I think of it as a related but different quilt, just as Alice is related but different to her mother.

When I gave her the quilt Alice was stunned speechless, not something I have often seen from her. It was lovely to be able to send her off with something special, but the reason that she raced to the 'top of my quilts to be made list' was due to an off the cuff comment she had made a month or so earlier to my daughter when they had been out together.

My daughter had told her that we were making a quilt together for her friend who was having chemotherapy and Alice's response stunned us both - she asked if she would have to wait until she was ill before I would make a quilt for her.

Needless to say, I didn't think that was necessary and she raced to top of the list. The label carried the same words I stitched onto her mother's quilt - Friendship is the backbone of life. 

So that's three quilts that have gone off to universities with new owners - two to Dunedin and one to Christchurch. A good output for a summer - and there are still more to come.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Searching for Sunshine

It's been a busy few days here since Christmas. We had a lovely couple of days catching up with family and friends over lots of great food. The weather then took a turn affording me the perfect excuse to hit the sewing room. I wound up sewing just the sunshine I was seeking.
Last month I bought this wonderful Valori Wells fabric, planning that it would be the main feature of a quilt for one of my daughter's friends who is heading off to do a Fine Arts degree.
However quilts do seem to have a mind of their own in my experience. I've been looking at various modern quilt sites to find some ideas for some quick quilts as there are a couple I want to make for close friends who are heading away to University over the next few months. I really liked the Lemon Squares quilt pattern by Faith on Fresh Lemons blog and decided this would be just the thing - bright, clean and speaking of sunshine.  

It sewed up quickly and best of all almost all of it came straight out of my stash with only some additional white fabrics needed to add to what I had.

 So the focus fabric was re-purposed as a border,

once the central blocks had been framed by a thin border of pencils, designed by Kaffe Fassett. Not only were their colours just right but of course it was a natural choice of fabric for someone embarking on Fine Arts.

This rather vibrant print will be the backing - I picked it out for the colours. They compliment the front well. The funny thing is that the more I look at it the more certain I am that I've seen this fabric before in the home of the very person who will soon own this quilt - I'm almost certain her mother has bought this fabric and shown it to me.

As I say, quilts do seem to have a mind of their own.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year to you all.
Let's look forward to lots more creativity and colour in the year ahead.